Birth Story from Uganda: Twins

A woman from a distant, remote village came to Grace Family Clinic for prenatal care.  She was in her third trimester and near her delivery date, yet this was her first visit.  When the midwife examined her, she found 2 heartbeats.  She explained to the mother that she needed an ultra sound to confirm twins.  The husband resisted – he was concerned about the cost (we do not have ultrasound equipment at Sunrise Centre) but after much persuasion from our staff, he finally accepted.  

The mother returned two days later with the ultrasound results, which confirmed twins and revealed one baby was underweight.  The mother had not taken any prenatal or iron supplements and her diet was restricted due to lack of money.  Sunrise advised the mother to deliver at a bigger hospital as her pregnancy was at high risk for complications that we are not equipped to handle, but the husband refused. He was worried about the high cost (up to 2 months salary).  He said they would get a Traditional Birth Attendant from the village.

The mother came back to the clinic one week later in advanced labour after trying to deliver at home.  Grace Family Health Centre took her in and provided her with the compassionate care.  She delivered both babies, one was  2.6 kilos the other only 1.5 kilos., however after delivering she had post part hemorrhaging.  The midwives gave her oxytocin and then misoprostol but could not stop the bleeding.  An ambulance was called and our midwife accompanied the mother and twins to the nearest hospital, however they did not have blood for a transfusion so turned them away.  They continued to a second hospital but with the same result…no blood.  The situation was deteriorating, the smallest baby passed away and the mother was also slipping away.  The midwife continued to care for the second baby and begged the mother to hold on.

They arrived at the third hospital and thankfully were admitted.  The mother and surviving twin were stabilized, given a transfusion and survived. The father came to take the smallest baby for burial but was very thankful to have his wife and daughter in good hands. There was sadness but also celebration.

While we mourn with the family and Grace Clinic staff, we also join you in celebrating the miracle of saving the mama and one of the twins! Thanks to Nicole Van Seters for another empowering story from the field! With love as the force, Kay

Giving Thanks for the Birth of Joy

Success Story: Baby Joy (see photo courtesy of Sunrise Centre/Nicole VanSeters)

A 19 year old girl named Ruth came to our Grace Family Medical clinic in central Uganda to deliver.  Her husband abandoned her after finding that she was pregnant.  Her mother, who is elderly, was taking care of her but had very little money.  They could not afford to purchase a birth kit and came with no supplies.  They had tried another clinic but had been turned away because they could not pay.

Ruth was in full labour so Grace Family Health Centre welcomed her and provided her with everything she needed.  The delivery went smoothly with no complications and Ruth delivered a healthy baby girl, whom she named Joy, because she delivered well and they were happy to have her.  Grandmother, mother and daughter were very grateful to Sunrise.   Baby Joy was immunized, Momma was given postnatal care and lactation counseling, and advised to return for future care.  

Congratulations to Mama, Baby Joy and to the Sunrise Centre team!!!

Beyond Red & Blue: You Are My Favorite Color!


My 3-year-old granddaughter and I have a game where we ask, “What’s your favorite color”? Lately her favorite and mine has been blue. This past Sunday night she said her favorite color is red. (She had earlier told me her other grandma’s favorite color is red). Without making me wrong for preferring blue she said, “Gramma K, YOU are my favorite color!” That’s how my new mantra was born: “YOU ARE MY FAVORITE COLOR!”

The significance for the US election only occurred to me later as I saw the electoral map filled in with red and blue. Will you join me in going beyond color or party affiliation, to unity in diversity as Gandhi said? If not now, then when? If not us, then whom?Multiracial Hands Making a Circle

“But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of LOVE that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s never too late for miracles, and the timing would never be better!

Ashland Compassion Tour a Success!


David and Tour Co-sponsors

Ashland was the 16th stop on David Breaux’s two-year North American journey. Global Force for Healing was joined by co-organizers Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) and Unity in Ashland. Collectively we made it possible for five diverse faith/spiritual communities, two radio stations, the Ashland Library, Bloomsbury Bookstore, and ACPC participants to have meaningful conversations on compassion.

David continued his regular practice of standing on one street corner and asking passersby for their concepts of compassion. He estimated 30% of people he approached wrote their concepts in the notebook he keeps. This practice began in Davis, California and resulted in the book Compassion, Davis, CA (2010).tctbloomsbury2


To learn more about the Ashland Tour experience feel free to contact . For more about David or the Tour: compassionis.comThis community-wide experience highlighted our “mission in action” in Ashland. Stay tuned for future initiatives!db-rabbi-joshua


Local Laundry Love: Clean Comfort and Community

“If I had clean clothes, I think people would treat me like a human being.” With this statement the nationwide movement called “LAUNDRY LOVE” was launched in southern California in 2004. To date 450,000 people have been cared for and 600,000 loads of laundry have been done.laundry-love-potluck

The idea is simple yet profound: To provide quarters for a local laundromat while sharing conversation and homemade soup with folks for whom the cost of clean clothes is unaffordable. Many of the regular guests are without a home and are deeply appreciative of this act of kindness. Says Kate W, “This is awesome because it’s so expensive to wash clothes. It feels like community here…It’s a family feeling.”

In Ashland, Oregon First Congregational United Church of Christ (“UCC”) practices “laundry love” the second Saturday of each month. Volunteers have found that the $500 monthly investment from collecting quarters from church members, epitomizes love and compassion in action. Says church volunteer Alex Reid, “It levels the playing field. We have great conversations with women folding their clothing…We talk about life, marriage, how to raise children, who you’re voting for. They’re very grateful. I’ve had people give me their last crumpled-up dollar and tell me to pass it to the next person.” (excerpted from Ashland Daily Tidings, October 17, 2016, page 3).laundry-love-alex

When I use the washer and dryer in my garage I am even more grateful for the luxury of clean clothes and towels, and happy when a neighbor or friend borrows my washer and dryer. “Laundry love” indeed! For more information and inspiration:

What not-so-random act of kindness inspires you today? “Since you get more joy out of giving to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” Eleanor RooseveltMultiracial Hands Making a Circle

Shanti Uganda Joins Our Network; Midwifery Care Embracing Traditional Practices

kayshanti2Welcome, Shanti Uganda! The Shanti Uganda Society began with a vision to unite traditional birthing practices with modern best practices and provide birth education in communities impacted by war, poverty and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.The organization was founded by Natalie Angell-Besseling in 2008, a yoga teacher & doula with a background in International Development.

After a trip to Uganda in 2007 volunteering as a doula at a local hospital, Natalie connected with a group of women who were making paper beads in Kampala. This initial meeting led her to Kasana, Luweero where after working with the community, the first women were selected from a group of 600 HIV positive women to form Shanti Uganda’s first Income Generating Group. With the support of our women’s group and the guidance of community members, the organization began the planning stages for a community birth centre.

After purchasing one acre of land in Nsaasi Village, the Shanti Uganda Birth House was completed in the spring of 2010. We opened our doors fall 2010, expanding our programs to include a full service maternity centre, community garden and teen girls workshops. We catch an average of 30 babies a month.kayshanti5

We support a birth model that is based on the midwifery model of care and embraces best practices and traditional birth methods. Our core values are:

Growth: We are constantly growing and learning. We commit to learning from our mistakes and embracing education as a way for personal and community growth.

Integrity: We are accountable to our supporters, partners and the community we serve and commit to 100% transparency and truthfulness

Jane Drichta, Dir. Ugandan Operations

Sustainability: We honour the earth and respect the environment in which we work. We commit to deep community based development rooted in best practices.

 For more information:

Hope Foundation: Providing Healthcare Access to 1,000,000 in Bangladesh!


hope4bangladesh-photoA heartfelt welcome to Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh, one of two new participants in our Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network (! Here’s a short profile of this amazing organization founded by Dr. Iftiker Mahmood. He is a Miami-based pediatrician originally from Bangladesh:

HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh works in the southeast region of Bangladesh to provide critical healthcare for underserved populations through its charitable health centers. HOPE is heavily engaged in building local capacity of health workers at its training center to train midwives, community health workers, and others.

HOPE’s vision is to ensure that every woman has access to quality maternal healthcare. HOPE provides antenatal and postnatal care, normal delivery, emergency obstetric care, family planning, maternal health education, and nutritional counseling, among other services to thousands of women. HOPE is the sole provider of obstetric fistula repair in the area. It also cares for vulnerable children and the general population at its health centers.

Stay tuned for a more detailed post very soon. With love as the force, Kay


World Breastfeeding Week (8/1-7, 2016)!

We are so excited to celebrate mamas, babies and breastfeeding! Our deeply rooted human instincts and the force of love are powerfully expressed during and following the beautiful process of birth. What miracles are more awe-inspiring than the power and timing of a mother’s ability to breastfeed a child? After a baby is born, the mother’s body knows to begin producing the perfect ingredients to nourish a child, and the baby will use all its strength to instinctively get to the milk. This is beautifully demonstrated by the famous “breast crawl,” as shown here:


As a future nurse and a global citizen, my deepest passion lies in maternal-child healthcare. My value and passion for working with mothers and children comes from my very own mother! She delivered each of us three children naturally and safely, breastfed us all exclusively for six months, and continued to breastfeed past one year. We’re all healthy, happy and have a wonderful bond with our mama. She believes in the ability of every woman to successfully breastfeed and to produce enough, as do I!

Breastfeeding with Ibu Robin Lim, Bali

What’s so amazing about breastfeeding? 

Benefits to the mama: Reduces breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes type II, postpartum depression and can serve as a moderately reliable form of birth control for up to six months when done exclusively.

Benefits to the baby: Both long and short-term! Breast milk provides babies with the immunity they need to protect them from the outside world, as well as all the nutrients necessary to grow and develop. We also know that breastfeeding can reduce the risk for chronic illnesses later in life, such as diabetes and obesity.

Cost: Breastfeeding is available and more cost-effective than formula or other alternatives.

Breastfeeding 3Global Trends Breastfeeding success directly influences and contributes to the health of the individual, the family, community and global society at large. While the enduring benefits are so clear, only 40% of the world’s population exclusively breastfeeds until six months of age (WHO, July 2015). Support and encouragement must be provided from the moment of birth. This often starts with the birth attendant or healthcare provider. Thanks to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, over 152 countries are now working to ensure that their hospitals and providers facilitate mother and baby health, including exclusive breastfeeding, since we know breast is best!

Wellbeing from Day 1 This year’s focus for the celebration of breastfeeding treasures the importance of wellbeing from the very first day of life. We strongly endorse exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, as promoted by the World Health Organization. Because Global Force for Healing values families, mothers and babies, and because we know the importance of breastfeeding, we are currently working with organizations in our Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network to create a project to support and encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Stay tuned to hear more exciting news regarding this soon!

Breastfeeding w/proud Bapak-2.jpegSummary “Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s development; it is also the foundation of a country’s development” Please join us in helping make breastfeeding a universal practice!

WBW2016logo (4) Other Resources

  1. “10 Facts about breastfeeding”: (WHO, July 2015):
  2. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative:
  3. World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action:
  4. World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7, 2016):

Guest Blogger: Sadie Knights, Senior Nursing Student, OHSU, and Summer Intern for Global Force for Healing. Sadie is also incoming President of Nursing Students without Borders’ Ashland, Oregon campus

Uganda’s Buiga Sunrise: Celebrating Growth

19. That’s how many healthy babies were born at Buiga Sunrise Grace Family Health Centre in the month of June. 19 tiny beating hearts, 380 wriggling fingers and scrunched up little toes, and an insurmountable amount of joy and relief in the welcome of new life.

A mother and her new baby, born this June, at Grace Family Health Centre

June marked the record for the most births in one month, and represents a milestone as the clinic continues to expand its impact and practices in the community of Banda Kyandaaza in central Uganda. Along with this burgeoning growth comes new hopes and new trepidations as traditional medicine is incorporated along with western practices to try and ensure the safest and most comfortable care possible for their patients.

In the community where Grace Family Health Centre first opened its doors, trips to the hospital are often avoided due to the overwhelming medical bills that come along with them. A delivery at the nearest hospital can cost anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 shillings. While it is often safer than a traditional home birth, this safety comes at the price of foregoing many traditional cultural practices. In comparison, a delivery at the Grace Family Health Centre costs only 15,000 shillings (the equivalent to $5), which covers the price of the birth kit with medical supplies for the labor. If women at the Centre cannot afford the price of the kit, they are able to pay it in installments or through working in the garden that supplies the Centre with medicinal herbs and plants.

However, much of the trepidation surrounding hospitals and clinics still lingers in the community, a fact that became all too clear when a mother in critical condition came into the Health Centre after many hours of active labor. The staff at the clinic worked tirelessly to try and save both the mother and her premature baby’s life.Due to late stage of the labor and the lack of proper medical equipment for such a critical birth, the baby died on the way to the hospital. In moments like these, there are no numbers or statistics that seem capable of justifying the loss of a new life. The grief felt by all involved with the birth seems to echo in a collection of what if questions: what if the mother had known about the affordable price of an assisted birth at the Health Centre? What if we could afford the proper equipment to prolong life? What if that number of newborns was 20, instead of 19?

This loss served as a harrowing reminder of the importance of the work and services offered by the Health Centre, which has become a pillar of compassionate care and health in its community. Now, with the recent hiring of two traditional birth attendants from the village, there is an even larger number of mothers and babies who have access to these services. Together, the health team is working to strike a balance that allows tradition, culture, and medical technology to harmoniously provide the best possible care.

New mother with her twin babies, Kato and Babirye

This is precisely what happened on the 9th of June, when a mother delivering twins was brought into the clinic after avoiding the government clinic she was referred to for fear of the overwhelming fees. Together, the birth attendants and midwives surrounded her with love and support as they brought two healthy babies into the world. In central Uganda, twins are considered a magical occurrence for the family. However, due to the lack of safe and affordable medical care, this sense of magic is often lost in the stress and danger of what should be an uneventful delivery. Due in part to the services that the Health Centre provided, the magic of two new lives was able to be celebrated with joy by all.

As the clinic continues to grow, there will surely be more opportunities for celebration and for sorrow, for tradition and technology. But most of all, there will be more women and babies that are given a chance, and nothing seems more magical than that.

For more information on the Grace Family Health Centre and Buiga Sunrise, visit their website at Buiga Sunrise is part of GFH’s Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network. 

Guest author — Sarah Richmond is a summer intern at Global Force for Healing. She is passionate about social justice, community connectivity, and shining a light on a diverse array of storytelling voices. She is currently studying economics at Reed College.

Global ONLINE Compassion Summit July 13-14 (And It’s FREE!)


Free Online Event: Global Compassion Summit, July 13-14, 2016–registration link at bottom of the post; Join us in co-creating a more compassionate way of being!

The Global Compassion Summit is a no-cost online event produced by The Shift Network in partnership with The Center for Compassion Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University as part of the 5th annual Summer of Peace — the largest online peace event on the planet!

You will hear from global leaders from around the world — teachers bringing mindfulness to at-risk youth, attorneys using mindfulness and compassion to shift our legal system, physicians putting “care” back into health care, and activists who are using compassion to anchor their communities together.

During the Global Compassion Summit, you’ll discover:

  • The expansion of mindfulness from the meditation cushion at home, to mindfulness education in schools, community centers, prisons, nonprofit & for-profit organizations
  • How compassion practices are scientifically proven to decrease anxiety & depression, and increase emotional resilience and happiness
  • Why common humanity is important in the cultivation of compassion, and essential in bridging human divides ­— replacing prejudice and intolerance with understanding & kindness
  • The impact of mindfulness & compassion programs when adopted in diverse industries such as health care, the legal field and education
  • What you can do to participate in the growing compassion & mindfulness movements

You’ll also discover how mindfulness and compassion can help you face, heal and move through life’s inevitable suffering — and into action that re-energizes and reconnects you to our common humanity.

Please join us as we explore how compassion and mindfulness combined can and will change the state of our world and positively affect our evolution as a human species!

RSVP here for the Global Compassion Summit — at no charge: